Tamaqua police continue to investigate Wednesday night's car theft, which was followed by a stabbing/shooting incident.
While all of the involved parties have been identified, Criminal Investigator Cpl. Henry Woods has declined to release that information due to the conflicting accounts he has received. He continues to process evidence gathered from three individual sites the Tamaqua Wine and Spirits Store on North Railroad Street, the area where the stabbing/shooting occurred, and the recovered stolen vehicle.
The incident began shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot in front of the Wine and Spirits Shoppe when the store manager decided to clear the new fallen snow from his and his co-worker's vehicles. After removing the snow from his co-worker's 1997 silver Nissan Altima he left the vehicle running as it was only a few minutes until closing time.
He then concentrated on his own vehicle, parked a few feet away. As he cleared the snow he observed three males walking in front of the store. Two were wearing "hoodies" while the third had on a jacket with orange and white sleeves.
The three men then ran to the Nissan, jumped inside and drove away, going the wrong way on N. Railroad Street. The manager saw the vehicle turn right on to Biddle Street and called 9-1-1. After giving a description of the thieves he handed the cell phone to his co-worker so she could provide the Schuylkill County Communications Center with the vehicle information.
He then attempted to follow the threesome in his own vehicle but was hindered somewhat by the snowfall. As he drove north on Pine Street he saw three men walking on one of the side streets. Two were wearing hoodies and the third had on a jacket with orange and white sleeves.
The manager exited his car and approached the men, asking them about his co-worker's car. Following a heated exchange of words, the manager was physically assaulted by the trio. He was struck in the head and stabbed in the left hand. He then drew his handgun and fired one shot, striking one of the assailants in the stomach area.
The manager then made it back to his car, pursued by one of the attackers. He managed to drive away and returned to the liquor store where he shared his information with police.
Officers began looking for the wounded man and his friends, but were initially unsure of where the stabbing/shooting occurred as the store manager was somewhat unfamiliar with the streets in town.
The wounded man was discovered to the rear of the liquor store, on Rolling Mill Avenue, suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He and his friends claimed to have no knowledge of the stolen car and told officers it was a case of mistaken identity.
The store manager and the man with the gun shot wound were both transported to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale. The gun shot victim was then transferred to St. Luke's Hospital, Fountain Hill, where he was listed in serious condition on Thursday.
An intensive search of the area began and officers discovered the stolen vehicle hidden near a row of garages on Locust Street.
Woods noted he would consult with the office of District Attorney James Goodman once he had processed the evidence, which included video surveillance footage. A press release will then be issued concerning the incident and the list of charges to be filed.
Police Chief Dave Mattson and Woods both categorized the incident as "a crime of opportunity" that escalated, stressing it was not gang related.